If you’re interested in finding out about Imber’s so-called “Great Adventure” (and how scared I was), feel free to read on. Telling it helps exorcise the fear – and express delight at the resolution. Included are some details about taking her on the flight.
We left Toronto Tuesday August 16th at about 4:30pm. The morning of Monday August 15th, after I had an appointment and come back to my apartment (from which all furniture had been removed the day before) I discovered that Imber, my very beloved and somewhat handicapped cat, had managed to push my bedroom window open more than we had left it the evening before, and push out the (already loose) screen, and get out of the apartment. I nearly freaked out. The only thing that stopped me from doing so was worrying that it would affect my tone of voice when I called for her. I spent the entire afternoon and part of the evening searching for her. My upstairs neighbour was wonderful, as was everyone I asked to check their backyards or the like – all of them were very supportive.
Finally, my dad had to head back to the hotel at just after midnight, so in the very early morning of Tuesday (because of the TTC schedule) – the day we were leaving. Originally, I was supposed to go back with him – the only thing left in the apartment aside from the suitcases and Imber’s carrier, food and litter box was a chair. I refused, determined to stay in the hopes that Imber would show up sometime around dawn or before that. On the advice of Vathara, I stayed in the hallway just outside the bedroom (whose window we had left open). Luckily, I had a book to read.
At about 3:30, I first heard Imber mew out in the backyard. I responded as I usually did to her meows, and there was no answer. Then just before 4am, she mewed again, and kept mewing when I called out to her. Finally she slipped in the window at exactly 4am, according to my watch. I stood up and edged into the room, and she took off again. I nearly cried, but instead concentrated on calling her softly, and shaking her food bowl… and she came back in. The first thing I did was get her to move along the window ledge to the area where the window wasn’t open, and close the open window. Then I lifted her up and hugged her so hard….
Then, after I’d texted Mom and Dad, and emailed my aunt and friends that she was back, Mom told me to take a cab back to the hotel so I could get at least some sleep. So I did. I really was so relieved, it was – as the “mood” says – indescribable.
When we arrived back at the apartment after brunch at 11am that morning, Imber was hiding behind one of the suitcases in the bedroom area. I went in and sat with her, and spent quite a bit of time just chatting to her – which managed to coax her out of there and into moving around me, getting petted and made much of. So when 1:30 came, it was fairly easy to give her the tablet for the flight (1/2 tablet of children’s Gravol, based on her weight), then urge her into her carrier.
She really likes the carrier I picked up for her back in July (since I thought she needed a soft-sided carrier for the airplane cabin, and the hard-sided carrier we have wouldn’t have passed inspection anyway, since its door was only held shut by duct tape). She’s surprisingly quiet in it, where she used to howl in the hard-sided carrier. I’d spent all of the previous month making sure that she saw the carrier as a refuge when she wanted to curl up and be alone. So the cab ride to the airport was easy, and she even managed to be curious enough to look around as we hit the highway.
The airport was scary for her. Not only were there huge numbers of people, and very noisy ones at that, but I had to take her out to go through security (the carrier had to go through the scanner, I had to take her through the “gate” with me). She was very glad to get back in her carrier after that! But she was an astonishingly brave and well-behaved girl, so I was sure to praise her lots.
She panicked during takeoff (which resulted in me getting accidentally bitten; she was biting at the screen in the front of the carrier, I was trying to get my scent covering it, and she ended up biting down on the finger that was running over the screen – but the bite is healed now), but once we levelled up (and I took the carrier onto my lap for a while), she calmed down. She was still nervous, but she felt confident enough to look around. During landing, she curled up in the back of the carrier, but she didn’t panic any further.
Once we got to the house, I took her down to my new room, got her out of the carrier and onto the bed, and sat there for a bit reassuring her. My youngest sister (who is with us for a term) had already made my bed, brought a kitty litter box and food and water in for her, so all was good. And that evening, she even let said sister (who had never met her before) pick her up and pet her! This from a cat who practically typifies the term “aloof” (except with her mommy-cat – namely, me).
At this point (two weeks in), she’s very settled in my room, and has had expeditions outside – but she tends to be nervous for that, because my parents have two dogs and three other cats. The dogs scare her (though yesterday, she stayed up in the den – the floor “above” mine – with me for over an hour, and faced off against the more terrifying of the dogs, twice, as well as the cat who is being a thorn in her paw once), and the other cats irritate her (well, the males do. Mouse came down to my room once, and ran off before Imber really noticed her). But she’s starting to get used to them as well, which is good.
Anyway, that’s the tale of what happened, starting the day before we left and going through to today.